Saturday morning I woke up at about 7:30am Cologne time, and I hopped on Deutschland's premiere public transportation (no really, it's great!) and made my way to a part of town I'd never been to before. I was going there to try my luck at the city bicycle market that apparently occurs once a month or so. After getting off of the bus I took the first street that seemed like it would lead me in the right direction, or in other words other people were walking that way too which is a very good indicator of how I get around here in Cologne. Walking a couple hundred yards down the street, I eventually, and very luckily, made it to the market. There were about a 100 bicycles lined up from different vendors and I began to parooze through them all. I was actually amazed at how expensive second hand bikes were going for. Most decent bikes were up around 100 to 150 euros, which is way out of my budget for a bike that I'm only riding for six months. Right before I was about to leave I saw a few bikes that one man had brought in, and saw a silver mountain bike among them. I asked him how much, and he told me only 40 euros! "Nur 40 euro?" I asked. "Nur 40 euro. Alles ist in ordung" "Only 40 euros. Everything is in order." He let me try the bike out, and before selling it to me, he of course asked "where are you from?" I told him I am from the US, and just like every German here, when I say that I am from the US, they ask me about one of three things; Obama, Hillary, or Bush. That brings me to another topic that I will divulge into in a moment. Anyways, he was very nice, and he sold me the bike, and I rode my new bike all the way home. Everything was great!
The next day, I was riding my bike when much to my surprise the left pedal just fell right off. It fell off right on the street as I was riding, and my bike had hardly lasted 24 hours before it was out of order. I don't know if the man knew that it was going to break or not, but what can I do. Today I took the bike into a bike shop to be fixed, and luckily the repair will only cost 15 euros. Still not a bad deal for a bike!
I can already tell that I am getting a bit lengthy with this, and I still have so much to tell. On the topic of politics; like I said, when someone finds out I am from the US, they immediately probe me for my thoughts on Obama, Hillary, or Bush. "Are you a democrat, or republican?" "Who do you want to win the election?" The questions get much more complicated. I would take a gander to say that most Germans know more about US politics than 80% of Americans do. Not just Germans, but other Europeans as well: A guy I met from Ireland told me "It matters to me more who is running the US, than who is running Ireland." I can even turn on the TV here and see two different TV channels covering the election news, and see no other channels covering European politics. Luckily, I have set my homepage to CNN.com so that I can stay up to date on what is going on, and prepare myself for any bombardment of political questioning.
The last and most important part of this lengthy blog post: The European Championship. If you aren't watching at home, you probably need to! I have never been to a place that lives a sport like here in Germany. The current Fuessball (soccer) tournament is the UEFA European Cup, and it's a big deal. It is similar to the World Cup, but just for Europe. Last night was the first game that Germany played, and it was against Poland. Germany won 2:0. I watched the game in a park within the city, with about 50 or so others. During a game day, you can walk down the streets, and you can hear all of the TV's that are on in all of the restaurants, and peoples' homes. You can hear drums banging from fans a mile away. Faces are painted, everyone is wearing their team's colors, and it seems as though the whole town has stopped. This was just for their first match in the tournament. Hopefully, Germany will continue to do well! After the match, my roommate said we were going to stay out, so I went with her around to where our apartment is, and I was amazed again. It was about midnight, and the streets were just filled with thousands of Germany fans. Everyone is singing songs, and drinking beer. There were a group of fans kicking a soccer ball into an open window a couple of stories up. When they finally got it in, everyone on the street cheered . . . "GOOOOOOOOOOLLLLL!!!" The picture above is from this street party. I wanted my picture with the police car. And yes, I have an open container outside. It was a wild time, and the games are a lot of fun to watch. From what I hear, you can also watch it in the US.
That's about enough for this long post. Next time I will be a bit more brief. Feel free to leave comments, because I have no idea if anyone is reading this unless you let me know! I of course miss everyone back home, and can't wait to get a Flaming Amy's burrito, or order a Hungry Howie's Pizza.
Oh, I think I may have joined an Aussie Rules Football club. . . . training for that is tomorrow. We'll see how that goes . . . .